New PM Articles for the Week of April 7 – 13

NewsboyNew project management articles published on the web during the week of April 7 – 13. We read all of this stuff so you don’t have to! Recommended:

If It Heartbleeds, It Leads

  • Rusty Foster explains the HeartBleed clearly enough for just about anyone to understand.
  • Brian Leach adds his thoughts to the stream of news on Heartbleed.
  • Mashable has compiled the Heartbleed Hit List: those major sites affected and not impacted. My recommendation: change your passwords, anyway. Just wait until those sites who admit to a problem have announced a solution, before you change that password. Meantime, don’t log in!

PM Best Practices

  • Chad Baker recounts a recent lessons learned session where the team explored what went well, and found a useful recommendation for future projects.
  • Bart Gerardi continues his series on “watermelon projects” with an ounce of prevention.
  • Elizabeth Harrin reviews “Trust in Virtual Teams,” by Thomas P. Wise.
  • Scott Berkun enumerates the ways in which remote work improves diversity.
  • Lynda Bourne reveals the potential impact of differing cultural perceptions of the relative importance of past, present, and future.
  • Roberto Toledo explains how to reduce the time required to plan a project, with a Project Planning Acceleration Project.
  • Ireti Oke-Pollard reminds us to give the operations folks “a seat at the table” during our project, so we don’t deliver something that they can economically support.
  • Zach Watson gives the elevator pitch for five Open Source project management alternatives.
  • Mike Clayton sings the praises of spreadsheets, and recommends a great resource for creative solutions using Excel.
  • Bruce McGraw gets back to the basics with project communication.
  • Joe Crumpler has found a gap in his skill set – call it business storytelling.

Agile Methods

  • Johanna Rothman continues her series on designing your Agile project, with a look at how the team will interact with management.
  • Pawel Brodzinski makes the case for unscaling Agile. That’s right: think smaller!
  • Nick Pisano refutes Neil Killick’s assertion that “traditional software development contracts” are the problem.

Strategy and Governance

  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews John Donahoe, SPMO Director at the Star Alliance, on the nature and value provided by the Strategic PMO. Just 24 minutes, safe for work.
  • Kevin Kern on PMO success: “The ultimate [PMO] is a model of defined and aligned processes, with results tracking and transparency to match.”
  • Allen Ruddock observes that a PMO has to be close to the action in order to be effective. Not off-shored, or shared services, but an actual participant!
  • Glen Alleman applies an IT governance and decision rights mindset to the #NoEstimates movement, referencing a book by Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross.
  • John Goodpasture notes the difference between a cost and an investment, and between maturity and decline.
  • Rich Maltzman and Dave Shirley trot out statistics that demonstrate strategic alignment has a significant impact on the probability of a successful project.

Podcasts and Videos

  • Cesar Abeid interviews Patrick Snow on growing a passion into business, while keeping your day job. Just 36 minutes, safe for work.
  • Michel Dion adds his comments to that new slice-of-death video, “The Expert.” Less than seven minutes, safe for work, and more depressing than a week’s worth of Dilbert.

Enjoy!

New PM Articles for the Week of March 31 – April 6

Cartoon NewsboyNew project management articles published on the web during the week of March 31 – April 6. We read all of this stuff so you don’t have to! And Elizabeth Harrin was kind enough to give me a guest spot on her blog, PM4Girls – thanks, Mum! Also recommended:

PM Best Practices

  • Glen Alleman explores the clever phrase, “Do it right or do it twice.”
  • Gary Nelson notes that there is an appropriate window of opportunity for change. After that, everything gets expensive or impossible.
  • Bruce Benson sings the praises of arguments, disputes, and debates.
  • Barry Hodge argues that Nozbe is the best “to do” list app for project managers, and gives five excellent reasons. I’m still not ditching Trello, though …
  • Dick Billows notes the advantages of using a software-based project scheduling tool, and shoots down the arguments against it.
  • Marian Haus recaps the three “traditional” techniques for overcoming project schedule constraints.
  • John Goodpasture shares a challenge question he puts to his risk management students, on how to assess the impact of a new technology, process, or vendor.
  • Tony Adams traces the link between the project charter and the engagement of the project sponsor.
  • Henny Portman links us to some great how-to videos for Excel – the project manager’s Swiss Army Knife.
  • Sue Geuens notes that incorrect data records can lead to some pretty serious consequences.

Agile Methods

  • Jeff Pierce addresses requirements gathering for those development projects with a lot of constraints.
  • Johanna Rothman continues her series on designing your own Agile project, with a look at dealing with the unknowns.
  • Cheri Baker looks into the post-success bounce, and why success is so often temporary.
  • Soma Bhattacharya talks about what to do once you’ve succeeded, and your Scrum team is successful, productive, and stable.
  • Dave Prior reflects on how he’s using (and benefiting from) his personal Kanban, as a follow-up to his interviews with Jim Benson.
  • Paulo Dias looks at the down side of starting a Sprint on a Monday.

Strategy and Governance

  • Martin Webster asks an interesting question: “Does strategy emerge or is it planned?”
  • Elizabeth Harrin reviews Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell’s new book, “Leadership 2030: The Six Megatrends You Need to Understand to Lead Your Company into the Future .”
  • Michael Wood notes that the maxim “simpler is better” also applies to project portfolio management.

Your Career

  • Dennis McCafferty shares a slide deck that shows compensation and career prospects for experience project managers are looking very good, indeed.
  • Linky van der Merwe links us to a few resources for project managers looking to make a career move.
  • Michel Dion provides some tips for those preparing for a job interview.

Enjoy!

Planning Project Human Resource Management

Hanford project workersThe PMBOK describes “Plan Human Resource Management” as the process of identifying and documenting project roles and responsibilities, determining the skills required to perform in those roles, defining the reporting relations of the people on the project, and creating a staffing management plan. As you might expect, two of the primary inputs to this process are the project management plan and the activity resource requirements. This makes sense, in that you need a good idea of what work needs to be done before you can do that other stuff. But most projects operate under constraints, which the PMBOK refers to simply as “enterprise environmental factors.” These constraints can add complexity to your human resource management plan, and may affect cost and schedule.

Availability of Resources

Some of the people with the required skills, knowledge, and authority to work on the tasks described in the project plan have other responsibilities, aside from the project. It is not uncommon for projects to be delayed, because a project resource with production duties is unable to complete a task on time. For example, those who work on year-end financial reporting or tax processing may be largely unavailable for project work in December and January. When you identify a resource, determine if their work schedule may conflict with the project schedule. It might make sense to back-fill the production work with a temporary worker, or make some other arrangement.

Availability of Skills

Some skills required to perform in certain project roles may not be immediately available. You have several alternatives: train a current employee, hire a new employee with the requisite skills, engage a contingent worker for the duration of the relevant tasks, or outsource the work to an external firm. Each of these alternatives has cost implications, and most organizations have policies governing them. Engage the right people in the Human Resources or Purchasing departments, as required, to assist in estimating cost and time required for each alternative.

Remote Locations

Many organizations are global in nature these days, and virtual project teams are not uncommon. While this adds complexity to communication and collaboration, coordination with distant managers also adds complexity to project governance, and possibly introduces certain risks. I know of one project that was delayed because a key team member in another country was downsized, and no one notified anyone on the project team. In another case, a team member was injured in a traffic accident. Ensure that you record contact information for the managers or administrators of your team members in remote locations. Establish communication with the responsible person, and ask them to notify you in the event of an unexpected absence or change in status.

Projects that involve team members from multiple organizations, across multiple locations and time zones, are challenging to plan and execute. In creating your staffing management plan, be sure you understand the constraints that imposed on your access to human resources, consider your alternatives, and anticipate the issues and risks, so you can manage for success.